Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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NaBloPoMo Day 9 – Conferences are exhausting

Brain so full! So many good ideas to apply to my work, new tools to try out, new things to read, etc. And there’s still two more days!

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Nerd Stats 2016

Another year goes by, another row gets added to my table of nerd stats. The stats for 2016 are up until the time of publishing this (i.e., on the afternoon of Dec 31), because I’m going out for NYE tonight so won’t be sitting around counting up the remaining nerd stats. Except for the # of blog postings – I have included this one plus one more that I’ll post after this for a total of 116 – the exact number of my goal for this year.

Blog postings Tweets1 Visits to my blog Average number of blog visits per day Busiest day on my blog
2008 423 2,227 32,410 93 Sept 26, 2008 (460 views)
2009 357 1,815 45,153 126 July 25, 2009 (1,181 views)
2010 344 2,302 44,689 122 Feb 9, 2010 (233 views)
2011 380 3,625 60,560 166 Oct 10, 2011 (374 views)
2012 201 875 63,844 175 Feb 13, 2012 (350 views)
2013 213 945 46,665 128 Sept 4, 2013 (721 views)
2014 91 910 33,948 93 Mar 7, 2014 (208 views)
2015 118 800 34,930 96 Nov 23, 2015 (512 views)
2016 116  812  51,549  141 Jan 29, 2016 (13,968 views)
% change from 2015 -1.7% +1.5% +47.6% +46.9% +2,628%

My amount of blogging and tweeting were pretty much the same as last year, but blog views were substantially above 2015, predominantly due to a record breaking nearly 14,000 blog views on Jan 29. Almost all of those were views of a small posting I did back in 2010 about the fine print on a can of Red Bull. I haven’t the vaguest idea why.

  1. Note to self: You started Tweeting in 2008, so you get these totals by simple subtraction, not by some fancy pants program or anything. I hope this helps you when you write your “Nerd Stats 2017″ posting when you think “how the hell did I figure out how many times I tweeted in a given year??” []

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Heels

As a 5 ft tall woman, I’ve grown accustomed to wearing heels so that I can walk amongst the normal height people and only look very, very short, as opposed to the very, very, very, very short that I actually am. As a shoeaholic (a trait I inherited from my mother), I have an extensive selection of heels. But I haven’t worn a pair of heels since June!

When I sprained my ankle, I figured it was pretty sensible to wear flats. Fortunately it was summer and I have a few pairs of sandals that are nice enough to wear to work. And since I’d read that when you sprain your ankle, you are at an increased risk of re-spraining it for 3-6 months afterwards, I figured as a precaution I should stick to flats for awhile even after my ankle felt better.

And then my hip problem happened. So I’ve continued to not wear heels, given the limping and the cane and, though I am now on the mend, I’m not 100% and so I don’t want to re-aggregate it. But here’s the thing: it’s no longer summer, so I can’t wear my sandals. I really only have one pair of work-appropriate flats and then are burgundy, so they don’t go with everything (I have one pair of black shoes that have a platform with a slight heel that I do wear sometimes because it feels more stable than a regular heel). Three of my four pairs of work-appropriate boots (plus my one pair of ankle boots) are heeled. And last night I slipped on my way home from dinner and when I got home and took off my one pair of work-appropriate flat boots, I noticed this.

I don't think these are going to be waterproof anymore

Somehow I don’t think these will be waterproof anymore

I think it’s time to go shoe shopping.

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Introducing My New Cleaning Crew

So, Andrew is something of a neat freak1,2 and suggested that perhaps I should clean my algae-adorned frog tank more often than once a century. And while I sort of agreed in principle – i.e, I agreed with the notion that the frog tank should be cleaned, but disagreed with the notion that *I* should personal do any more cleaning than is absolutely necessary. So I have decided to outsource this work to three otocinclus catfish.

Untitled

One of my three new ottos

These little guys are algae-eaters who can happily co-habit with Tyrion Froggister, Copernicus the Third, and Timbit.

The only thing they need now are names. My initial thought was to call them Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar, but I feel like it’s a little too trendy and once the PokéCraze is over the names will seem dated. So if anyone has ideas of a better trio after whom to name them, I’m willing to take suggestions3

Untitled

Three little otto fish!

  1. Given this, why he’s dating me is something of a mystery. []
  2. He’s an accountant, so this is to be expected, I suppose. []
  3. Except Larry, Curly, & Moe. That’s a non-starter. []

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I’m In It For The Wine

So I’m one week away from my next half marathon – the Kelowna Wine Country half. When I set my goals for 2016, I had big plans to really focus on my training to finally Posterior Hip Muscles 3.PNGbreak the 2 hour barrier that stayed just out of reach in my races last year. But a series of annoying illnesses and sprained ankle have hampered my training and forced me to recalibrate my goal. After taking three weeks off due to my sprained ankle, I did manage to do 1 long run in July (16 km) and 3 long runs in August (a 17 km, an 18 km, and a 19 km), but I didn’t manage to fit in any speedwork. And in the last week I’ve been dealing with an insanely tight gluteus medius muscle. Like so tight that I’ve been limping and have been unable to run without a lot of pain. And so I haven’t run. My massage therapist theorized that it might be from the fact that my left ankle was not 100% so I was compensating and putting extra pressure on my right gluteus medius and now I’m in this state. So I had some massage and I’ve been stretching and foam rolling and I had an Epsom salt bath yesterday and I tried running again this morning and it definitely still hurts, though not as bad as it was. I’m hoping that if I continue to stretch and roll it for the rest of this week I’ll be able to loosen it up enough to get through the half marathon next Sunday. So that’s basically my recalibrated goal: I would like to be able to finish the race. I figure that I’ll just try to enjoy the scenery and be motivated by the fact that there is a wine festival waiting for me when I cross the finish line! Wish me luck!
Image credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=545381

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I’m Jammin’

Jam makingMy friends Tig and Pat have a fig tree. A fig tree that produces about eleventy billion figs. And since two people cannot possibly make use of eleventy billion figs, when the figs are ready, they invite their friends over for a big party where everyone eats, drinks, is merry, and those who are daring get to climb a tree to harvest the figs.

So, on Saturday I came home with a bag of figs and the idea that I should make some jam. Of course, I have never before made jam in my life, but no time like the present, right? After a wee bit o’ research on the internets and a trip to Canadian Tire to buy the requisite supplies, I was ready toJam making jam. But since I needed to be able to justify the purchase of said supplies, I decided that I should try my hand at a few different jams. And since blueberries and apricots are currently in season1, I picked some of them up at the produce market.

Now, the internets told me that to make fig jam, you just need to cook up your figs, sugar, and lemon juice – no need to add pectin because figs Jam makinghave lots of pectin in their skin. So I followed the internet instructions, and then “processed” my jam2. Then I made some blueberry jam and some apricot jam following the instructions that came with the box of pectin.

Now, the blueberry and the apricot jams gelled up nicely, but the fig jam, not so much – when I checked it the next day, it was sloshing around. More of a fig sauce than a fig jam:

So I went back to the internets, which told me that I could fix jams that hadn’t gelled by dumping it back into a pot, adding more sugar, lemon, and pectin3, and then re-boiling it and processing it all over again4. So I did that and now I have…. thicker fig sauce. The internets tells me that fig sauce is nice on duck and pork, so if anyone wants to have some fig sauce, let me know – I can totally hook you up with that.

My first ever homemade jams!My first ever homemade jams!As for the jams, I tasted then yesterday. The blueberry one, imho, is underwhelming. It’s a good consistency, but the blueberry flavour just isn’t that intense. Luckily, I only made two and a half jars of it. The apricot jam, however, I think is much nicer. It’s also the right jammy consistency and the flavour stands out a little more. I ended up having more apricots than I could use in  my first batch, so bought more pectin and made a second batch the next day. But this time I used liquid pectin, just to see what the difference is like. I haven’t tried that batch yet – I didn’t want to have two opened jars of apricot jam at the same time. But I’ll report back once I try it.

Now that I have the canning equipment, I’m kind of excited to use it some more. Blackberries are almost in season and there are tonnes of wild blackberries in the Lower Mainland, so I think I’ll go pic I’m also thinking that homemade jam could be pretty excellent filling for macarons.When the jalapeños from my balcony garden are ready, I’m totally making jalapeño jelly! I also want to make some pickled beets and some spicy pickled green beans.

Anyone else have any other suggestions of things that I could can?

  1. The fruit all seem to be coming earlier than normal this year, probably because we had summer weather way back in April and all the plants got confused. []
  2. I.e., put it in jars that had been boiled, top the jars with lids that had been heated, put the rings on until they are “finger tip tightened” and then boiled the jars for 10 mins []
  3. The recipe gave the amounts to use, depending on how much non-jammed jam you had. []
  4. I also learned that you can’t re-use the lids – they are designed as single use because the part that seals to the jar gets altered when you use it the first time, so it won’t make a good seal if you try to re-use it, and sealing the stuff in is sort of the whole point of canning. So now I have a bunch of round medal circles that I think I need to do something with, because it just seems like a waste to throw them out. Christmas ornaments, perhaps? []

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Random Thoughts on the Plane (From Many Days Ago, Which I Appear Not to Have Posted)

I wrote this on the plane on June 3, when I had no Internets to post, totally thought I’d posted it the next day, but I just discovered that I did not, so I’m posting now (after adding in a few links).

  • As I waited for the plane to get going (our pilot was late coming from his previous flight, so we boarded and then had to wait for like 20 minutes), I flipped through Facebook on my phone. Facebook has this thing now where they go “Hey, remember this thing that happened on this date in the past?” and then show you stuff you posted on this date over the years. The first thing it showed me was a posting I made cheering on the Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals in 20111. That reminded me that just about 5 years ago I got on a plane to go to a family reunion in Ontario (as I was bitter about leaving Vancouver the day before game 7 (the trip had been booked long before I knew the Canucks would still be playing in June!), as I was sure they’d win the Cup and I’d miss the big party the city would have… oh how wrong I was on that!). That trip would be the second last time I saw my dad alive – and the last time I would see him before we found out that he had a massive brain tumour and needed surgery. It’s his birthday next week. I really miss him.
  • I remember on that flight in 2011 that I sat next to a guy who was on his way to start his residency as an anesthesiologist – he told me that I had nice veins in my arm that looked like they’d be easy to get a needle in. June is that time of year – my friend Martha is soon to be moving to Winnipeg to start her residency as a pediatrician. I can’t imagine her telling a stranger on a plane that they have nice veins though!
  • People always complain about being seated near crying babies on a plane. There’s a baby in the row ahead of me that’s crying and I don’t find it annoying at all. All I can think is “Poor baby! I bet his ears are hurting him and he doesn’t understand why and he doesn’t know how to fix it!” I find more grown ups on the plane way to be annoying. Especially the ones who try to cut into the lineup to get on the plane – get to the back of the line, lady!
  • I really hope that the half hour delay in getting going doesn’t make me miss my connection in Toronto to St. John’s! [Spoiler alert: It didn’t]
  • I mentioned the other day that I often choose new things to bake based on ingredients that I have and want to use up. Yesterday I choose something to bake based on an ingredient that I didn’t have. I wanted to bake something for my cat sitter – I figure that it’s the least I can do to thank the friend who is watching my babies for me! – and I was going to bake chocolate chip cookies because (a) really, who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies? and (b) I needed something I could bake quickly and easily since I also had to pack and work on my conference presentations and organize my herb garden into my bathtub2. But then I remembered I had run out of white sugar and I was too lazy to run to the store3, so I googled around to find a recipe for easy cookies that don’t require white sugar and discovered that “brown sugar cookies” are a thing and I made them and they were delicious! Plus I get to add another new item to my list of “new things I baked in 2016“, which I wouldn’t have if I had just baked chocolate chip cookies.
  • Speaking of chocolate chip cookies, have you seen this commercial?I freaking love that commercial.
  • I’m glad I actually got done everything that I can possibly do on my workshop slides on the plane (to finish them off, I need a bit of time on the Internet and then I need to work with my co-presenter/sister, which I can do tomorrow when we are both in St. John’s), so now I can just write blog postings. I feel like I have a whole bunch of blog postings sitting in my brain that have been wanting to pour out, but I haven’t gotten to them because I’ve been too busy with so many other thing lately. [Spoiler alert: I did write some stuff
  • The number of times I’ve thought “I should Google…” or “I should email…” or “I should do some other thing that requires the Internet”4 on this flight before remembering that I’m too cheap to pay for the wifi is shocking. And I’ve only been out of range of the Internet for 2 hours so far. It really goes to show how integrated Internet access is with my daily life.
  • Having an empty seat next to you on a flight might just be one of the greatest luxuries of modern life. My window seat is sans power outlet – but I’m plugged into the one in the vacant middle seat. The inhabitant of the aisle seat and I have an unspoken agreement to share the middle seat’s tray to store our drinks as we both are using our own trays for our laptops. This is living, people! This is living! [Spoiler alert: On my next flight, which was Toronto to St. John’s, I got an empty middle seat AGAIN. Truly, it was a miracle of epics proportions for this to happen on two flights in a row.]
  1. Not something I wanted to be reminded of, Facebook, given the spectacular game 7 loss and the ensuing riot and the fact that we didn’t even make the playoffs this year! []
  2. The plants were all in my office with door closed the previous day, because I needed to be abe to use my shower, but I didn’t want the poor kitties locked out of the office for the week I’m gone. My condo isn’t that big of a place for them to roam so I don’t like cutting off a whole room. []
  3. See previous list of other things I needed to do last night. []
  4. Like adding something to my Google calendar, adding something to my to do list on Trello, etc. []

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Reviewing My Goals for 2015

Since it’s the end of the year, which means it’s time to check in on how I did with my 2015 goals!

2015 Goals Achieved (Y/N) Comments
Run two half marathons. Y BMO Vancouver & Montreal Rock’n’Roll.
Run a sub-2 hour half marathon N This, like gravy, is my Moby Dick.
Run 800 km Y 834.7 km, in fact.
Add 5 new medals to my collection Y Accomplished!
Complete the 100 pushup challenge N Didn’t even start trying it! Thought about it, but then had hand problems and then by the time my hand problems were fixed, I’d forgotten about it again.
Bring lunch to work more often than I buy lunch at work Y I tracked this all year and it turned out I brought lunch 53% of the time. I really think I could do a better job at this, so I think I’ll have to put in a more ambitious target for this for 2016.
Lose those last 5 lbs that I gained during my MBA N Gah, this is also my Moby Dick. I was trending in the right direction but then Drink-cember came along which, combined with No-running-vember and Sloth-cember, has caused me to start trending in the direction of Moby Dick.
Set up a new investment plan Y Done.
Write a will Y I did that yesterday. Kalev gave me a fill-in-the-blank will kit1 a billion years ago and I finally filled it in, mostly because I wanted to check this item off this list of goals!
Pay off 7.5% of my mortgage principal Y I actually paid off 18% of my principal this year. I used a combination of teaching money, textbook royalties, my tax return, and money I was able to save from my regular pay to do this.
Complete 15 items from my 101 list Y Done!
Apply for at least one research grant Y Back in November I said it would take a miracle for this to happen by the end of the year. As it turns out, a miracle happened – a great opportunity presented itself and I was able to get a grant in by the end of the year. Not at liberty to talk details, but I’m actually really excited by this project!
Make 15 new food or drink items that I’ve never made before Y I made 23!
Organize all my closets Y Done, though I did it so early in the year I probably should do it again!
Write 115 blog postings Y I published 118 blog postings in 2015!
Bonus goal: Read 15 books Y I read 18 books!

That’s 13/16 or an epic 81%. This far exceeds any of my previous years (2015: 50%, 2013: 65%, 2012: 44.5%, and 2011 at 40%)2

  1. New business idea: Mad Libs-style will kit. It would be hilarious AND legally binding! (TM!) []
  2. This would probably be a lot more exciting if my year hadn’t had such a shitty ending, but beggars cannot be choosers. []

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Dream Images

While I was searching Flickr for an image to go with yesterday’s blog posting, I saw a whole bunch of cool photos1, so I decided to use today’s blog posting to share some of them!

Dreaming

849 Last Day Dream 50

Her Tangible Dream
i had a dream and you were there holding my soul

Dream

bob's cheezy dream

Image Credits (all have Creative Commons licenses):

  1. Posted by Agnes on Flickr.
  2. Posted by negojsa mladjensovic on Flickr.
  3. Posted by Felipe Morin on Flickr.
  4. Posted by Jonathan Emmanuel Flores Tarello on Flickr.
  5. Posted by Alessandro Pautasso on Flickr.
  6. Posted by Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr.
  1. which I guess shouldn’t be surprising, since I was searching for “Dream” []

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My Belated Halloween Blog Posting – Daenerys Targaryen Costume

So I have a slight reprieve from my crazy busy-iness, as the class I’m teaching is on Wednesdays and since next Wednesday is a holiday, I have two weeks to write my next lecture instead of the usual one1. So I figured that I should probably blog my Halloween costume before it gets so late that it’s completely ridiculous. I figure that posting about my Halloween costume on November 6 is only slightly ridiculous.

This year I decided to go as Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons. For the uninitiated – and, as I discovered on Halloween, there are a lot more of the uninitiated that I expected – Daenerys is a character in the Game of Thrones books/TV series. I figured she’s short and blonde, so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for me.

I searched Google images for inspiration and decided to go with this outfit:

Mostly because I already owned a flowy blue top, pants, and tall boots. That left me in need of a cloak, long platinum blonde locks, and some dragons.

The hair was relatively easy – I just went to the Halloween store by my office and picked up the “Medieval Princess Wig”, which was clearly designed to be a Daenerys wig as it’s the exactly right colour and styled in the exact right way, but they didn’t have the license to call it that.

The dragons were a little more challenging. I figured I could go to any toy store and find me some dragons, but apparently dragons aren’t the in thing right now, as they were hard to find. Eventually I found this guy – who Daniel’s 6-year-old daughter informed me is a character named Stuffy from the show Doc McStuffins2 – and bought three of them, because Daenerys is the mother of a trio.

The last thing I needed for this costume was the cloak. I couldn’t find anything in stores – either regular stores or thrift shops, so I decided to make one. I learned to sew by hand when I was a kid3, but I haven’t sewed anything save for a few stitches to hem something or fix a hole in an existing garment since high school. But I was determined, so I found some instructions on the Internets and headed off to Fabricland to find some material that would match my flowy shirt.

Now anyone who tells you that time travel is not possible has clearly not been to Fabricland recently. Stepping through the door, I found myself instantly in the early 1990s (i.e., the last time I set foot in Fabricland). I made my way through reams and reams of fabrics4 and found a fabric that was not only the exact perfect colour match to my shirt, but was also just the right weight and flowiness for a cape! And it was on sale! I also found a beautiful clasp that I could use to hold the cape on! So I took the fabric over to the counter where they cut it for you and after explaining to the salesperson that, no, I don’t have a pattern, I’m just using some instructions from the Internet (she was horrified by this idea), she cut my fabric for me and then pulled up a clunky device that held carbon copy sheets on which sheet wrote the details of my purchase (what fabric, what length) and gave me the original to take to the cash and kept the carbon copies for her records, I guess?

Daenerys Targaryen costume

Seriously, it’s 2015. I am shocked you can even buy carbon copy papers in this day and age! You’d think that in the last 20+ years they might have come up with some sort of app to track these purchases (and thus, their inventory), but no. Carbon. Copy.

Anyway, I was very excited to have a little sewing project! I don’t own a sewing machine, nor do I exactly know how to use one, so I sewed it by hand. It only required that I sew the two sides onto the main part of the cloak, sew the two pieces of the hood together, sew the hood onto the cloak (make some gathers as you do to make it nice and flowy), and then hem the whole thing. I actually kind of enjoy sewing by hand – it’s somewhat meditative – though on the night before I had to have my costume done to wear to work I ended up staying super late finishing it, and then I kind of wished I’d taken up Daniel’s mother’s offer to borrow her sewing machine! But I got it done and I was quite proud of it in the end. And I think once I’m done teaching this new course, I might come up with something awesome to make that I can wear more than just on Halloween!

Anyway, here I am in my costume at work:

Daenerys Targaryen costume

And here I am running an important business meeting at Daenerys Targaryen5:

halloween costume at work

And here’s a close up of my dragons, who somehow acquired some candy!

Daenerys Targaryen costume - my 3 dragons

I was surprised by how many people didn’t know who I was. I got a lot of “You’re Elsa!” – and I guess because Elsa has long blonde hair and wears blue, but Elsa wears one long braid and I had curls and a few little braids pulled back at the top. Plus I had dragons! There were also a few “nice costumes” said with a tone that belied the speaker’s thoughts: “Please don’t realize I have no idea who you are dressed up as!” But anyone who knows Game of Thrones knew who I was instantly, including a lady I walked by in the Broadway-City Hall Canada Line Station who yelled “Daenerys Targaryen!!!!” when she saw me. And that was just based on the hair, because I was wearing my coat at the time and my dragons were tucked away in my bag!

Now I just need to find an excuse to wear a blue cape again.

  1. I also have assignments to mark, but they are group papers, so I only have four of them and they aren’t too long. []
  2. According to Wikipedia, Stuffy is terrified of spiders (citation needed), so therefore he is very sensible. []
  3. My mom and my paternal grandmother were my teachers. []
  4. Which, truth be told, really made me want to make a bunch of stuff! []
  5. My colleague who was sitting across from me at this meeting thought this was too hilarious not to photograph. []